Willamette Valley vineyards begins harvest after smoky summer - KPTV - FOX 12

Willamette Valley vineyards begins harvest after smoky summer

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The slight chill in the air Thursday morning created a perfect opportunity for local winemakers to harvest their grapes.

The grapes were poised for picking at Stoller Family Estate, where workers said the hot summer fueled the growth.

"Oh, it's been a great season. Hot, as we all know,” vineyard manager Jason Tosch explained. “Perfect weather for getting grapes ripe."

The cool morning temperatures provide protection for the grapes as they're harvested, and by all accounts, this year’s harvest is bountiful.

“It's been a real high-quality year as far as the growing season goes, and now we just need to get it into that winery, and get it processed,” Tosch said.

The grapes picked Thursday are slated to become a fine rosé, and the quality and sheer quantity of the grapes were clearly creating an underlying sense of enthusiasm.

"We have 200 acres here at Stoller, and we're hanging, I'd say, 700 or so tons out there,” Tosch said of the harvest. “We're going to pick it all. We're bringing it all in.”

Once the grapes were picked, they were brought to a pneumatic press.

"It's just looking for a gentle extraction of the juice without ripping it too hard,” winemaker Benjamin Howe explained. “You know, we're just looking to gently squeeze it to get the nice clean juice out of there.”

From there, the juice is stored in chilled tanks, where it will settle. After that, it's decanted and warmed before yeast is added. It typically takes about three weeks for that juice to ferment to a young wine.

The winemakers at Stoller said a lot of people have been asking whether wildfire smoke will affect this year's wine, but they believe there won’t be any impact to the various wines they produce in the Willamette Valley due to the summer smoke.

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